Saudis and Americans Disagree Over Whether US Is Involved in Targeting in Yemen

I noted earlier that Saudi Arabia had expressed concern about civilian casualties — when Russia caused them.

Which is why the conflict between these two statements is so interesting. Here’s Saudi Foreign Minister (and former Ambassador to the US) Adel al-Jubeir on Wednesday.

“We are very careful in picking targets. We have very precise weapons,” Adel al-Jubeir told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell. “We work with our allies including the United States on these targets.

Al-Jubeir said collateral damage is “extremely regrettable” and should be avoided.

“But can we prevent it 100 percent? I don’t think you can. This is warfare,” he said. [my emphasis]

Here’s a statement from earlier today from NSC Spokesperson Ned Price.

We are deeply concerned about recent reports of civilians killed in Mokha, Yemen on September 28.  We were also shocked and saddened by the deaths of the Yemen Red Crescent Society volunteers in Taiz on the same day. We take all credible accounts of civilian deaths very seriously and again call on all sides of the conflict in Yemen to do their utmost to avoid harm to civilians and to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. The United States has no role in targeting decisions made by the Coalition in Yemen. Nevertheless, we have consistently reinforced to members of the Coalition the imperative of precise targeting. We also have underscored the importance of thoroughly investigating all credible allegations of civilian casualties. We call for an investigation into these reported civilian casualties and for the findings to be reported publicly.

More broadly, these incidents underscore the urgency of seeking a durable solution to the crisis in Yemen through a peaceful political dialogue as soon as possible. [my emphasis]

Whichever it is, it sure is hard to square either one of these comments with the joint statement earlier today expressions shock over Russian inflicted civilian casualties.

Update: I’m curious whether Jubeir’s statement precedes the withdrawal of the Dutch proposal for an outside review in Yemen. The CBS article is time stamped 3:10 PM, which seems late in the day to have influenced the UN action, but the video it includes is timestamped 11:40, which may well have been early enough.

Update: Meanwhile, the US just bombed a Medecins sans Frontieres trauma center in Kunduz, killing at least 9 MSF staffers.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

6 replies
  1. wayoutwest says:

    I think it is safe to assume that the US supplies satellite targeting data on Yemen and other intelligence to the Saudis. The targeting decisions are made by the Saudis for better or for worse.

  2. bloopie2 says:

    “We are very careful in picking targets. We have very precise weapons.”
    .
    “3 Dead at Doctors Without Borders Hospital After U.S. Airstrike in Kunduz”.
    .
    Well, which one IS it?

  3. bloopie2 says:

    From the Guardian: “Oregon college shooting is all the more reason to carry guns, say local residents. … Interviews with almost a dozen residents of the rural Oregon community on Friday yielded unanimity on their biggest threats: gun control and Barack Obama.”
    .
    So many ways to go with that one …

  4. lefty665 says:

    We have killed as many innocents in Kunduz as in Oregon, and the body count in Kunduz is just begun.
    .
    Perhaps we could start by ceasing to kill foreign innocents by simply changing policy, and then work on the harder task of changing the Constitution domestically if the nation wants it.
    .
    Then of course there’s the opportunity to change policy that has us allied with al Qaeda and “mistakenly” bombing Shia militia instead of the ISIL forces they are fighting. Perhaps we could take a public stand on the Israeli policy of preferring al Qaeda to Assad, or cease to provide the Saudis cluster bombs to use against civilians in Yemen, or, or, or…
    .
    But no, O has vowed to “politicize” Oregon. Is this a great country, or what?

  5. P J Evans says:

    Obama is offering condolences on the 19 dead at the MSF hospital.
    That isn’t going to cut it. They knew damned well that was a hospital, and they reportedly hit the staff quarters.
    It’s no different from blowing up a wedding party, or killing US citizens in Yemen or elsewhere because they might possibly be helping a terrorist in some unspecified (and probably undefined) way.

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